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Oral Microbiome & Metabolic Diseases

Posted by Manuela Boyle on 8 February 2023
Oral Microbiome & Metabolic Diseases

A well-established link has been documented between periodontal disease and cardiovascular diseases like atherosclerosis, coronary heart disease, and acute coronary events, including myocardial infarction.

Many studies have associated periodontal disease with elevated bacterial exposure, coronary heart disease, and early atherogenesis.  Recent research published in 2019 showed—for the first time—the common presence of bacterial DNA from viridans streptococci in aspirated thrombi of patients with acute ischaemic stroke. The authors of this latter study conclude that Streptococcal bacteria, mostly of oral origin, may contribute to the progression and thrombotic events of cerebrovascular diseases.8 Other evidence suggests that oral health and systemic disease are indeed linked—what’s healthy for the mouth is also healthy for the rest of the body, and vice versa.

According to the 2000 US Surgeon General’s report, Oral Health in America, oral examinations can reveal signs and symptoms of more than 90% of systemic diseases.

There are approximately 800 species of bacteria that have been identified in the oral cavity, and periodontal disease is the most common oral condition in the population.In 2008, a systematic review found that periodontitis is a risk factor for coronary heart disease.One meta-analysis found that periodontal disease causes a 19% increase in the risk of cardiovascular disease. This increase in relative risk rises to 44% among individuals aged 65 years and over.

In addition to cardiovascular diseases, some studies suggest that infections in the oral cavity are contributing factors in systemic inflammatory diseases such as diabetes. New data suggest that this association is not indicated by traditional clinical signs of periodontal disease but rather by a cluster of host immune and inflammatory mediators.A 2015 study examining the relationship between periodontal microbiota and early diabetes risk found that higher levels of four species (A. actinomycetemcomitans, P. gingivalis, T. denticola, and T. forsythia) were associated with a two- to three-fold higher prevalence of prediabetes.20 The study speculates that if bacterial dysbiosis can contribute to prediabetes development in susceptible individuals, it may be possible that periodontitis and prediabetes (or diabetes) are comorbid conditions due to shared microbial risk factors.

Researchers are calling for further studies into the possible causal associations between oral conditions and systemic disease. In 2018, the largest study to date of nearly one million people experiencing more than 65,000 cardiovascular events (including heart attack) found that after accounting for age, there was a moderate correlation between tooth loss (a measure of poor oral health) and coronary heart disease, yet when smoking status was considered, the connection between tooth loss and cardiovascular disease largely disappeared. The researchers concluded that the modest tooth loss–coronary heart disease gradient appeared to be explained by cigarette smoking.

In a 2014 study, participants with excellent oral hygiene had a significantly lower cardiovascular disease risk compared to those with poor oral hygiene.

Encouraging healthy oral hygiene (including daily brushing and flossing) and supporting a healthy microbiome are just two ways practitioners can help prevent oral microbial imbalances that may contribute to systemic disease. In fact, the Journal of the American Medical Association recently published a report on the importance of oral health in comprehensive health care, stating that a five-minute oral examination could help physicians not only recognise poor oral health but also detect clues to seemingly unrelated health issues.


Bochniak M, Sadlak-Nowicka J. Periodontitis and cardiovascular diseases—review of publications. Przegl Lek. 2004;61(5):518-522.
Singer RH, Stoutenberg M, Feaster DJ, et al. The association of periodontal disease and cardiovascular disease risk: results from the Hispanic Community Health Study/Study of Latinos. J Periodontol. 2018;89(7):840-857. doi:10.1002/JPER.17-0549.
Delange N, Lindsay S, Lemus H, Finlayson TL, Kelley ST, Gottlieb RA. Periodontal disease and its connection to systemic biomarkers of cardiovascular disease in young American Indian/Alaskan natives. J Periodontol. 2018;89(2):219-227. doi:10.1002/JPER.17-0319.
Beck JD, Offenbacher S. Systemic effects of periodontitis: epidemiology of periodontal disease and cardiovascular disease. J Periodontol. 2005;76(11 Suppl):2089-2100. doi:10.1902/jop.2005.76.11-S.2089.
Mustapha IZ, Debrey S, Oladubu M, Ugarte R. Markers of systemic bacterial exposure in periodontal disease and cardiovascular disease risk: a systematic review and meta-analysis. J Periodontol. 2007;78(12):2289-2302. doi:10.1902/jop.2007.070140.

Author:Manuela Boyle
Tags:NewsPrevention & RecoveryEvidence Based ResearchCancerBlogs


  • The Institute for Functional Medicine
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